Frustration for Halfords Yuasa but celebrations for Matt Neal

British Touring Car legend Matt Neal reached 700 race starts in the British Touring Car Championship. The three-times champion reached the milestone in the second of three races at Oulton Park over the weekend. Matt is now over 100 starts ahead of his nearest rival, Jason Plato, having begun his BTCC career in 1991. 

Frustration beset the Honda manufacturer squad in the third meeting of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Oulton Park last weekend.

Cammish kept up his record of making the podium at every meeting in 2020 so far with third in race one, whilst Neal incredibly celebrated his 700th BTCC race start in the second contest.

With his Honda Civic Type R wearing the number 700, Neal took fourth on the grid, just quarter of a second behind top qualifier Rory Butcher and with Honda team-mate Cammish alongside in fifth.

Heavy rain just before the start of race one saw the entire field rapidly changing from slick dry to treaded wet tyres. Cammish outdragged his team-mate off the line, to score a podium finish in third.

Sadly Neal’s excellent qualifying performance counted for little when poor luck with a technical issue dropped the Honda Civic Type R down the field. Matt’s 700th BTCC start in the second race of the day would be from 25th on the grid.

The track was still wet but drying for race two and Neal staged another of his comeback drives, climbing 11 places but just failing to produce a memorable result to his 700th race – his 13th place finish was just short of contention for promotion in the reverse-grid race three. 

The grid reversal put Cammish seventh on the grid for the final race; with lead title rival Turkington alongside. The encounter unfortunately proved one to forget for the Honda team as both drivers fell victim to opening lap incidents, Cammish dropping to 17th and Neal forced to pit with a puncture. Finishing positions of 15th and 24th was poor reward for the pace of the two drivers.

The Honda team will have little opportunity to brood after the trying day, however, as for the second time this season the BTCC stages meetings on successive weekends. The series heads north to Scotland for rounds 10 to 12 of the BTCC at Knockhill on 30th August.

“Firstly thanks to everyone for the celebrations around my 700th start,” said Neal. “I must admit I hadn’t been counting them! I’m only sorry I wasn’t able to bring home better results on such a milestone day, especially after such strong qualifying pace.

“Still after so long in this series I know that you get straight back up and go again. I love Knockhill, I’ve taken four wins for Honda there before and I want more!”

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